On Tuesday, June 9, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced the “Emergency Family Stabilization Fund” (S.3923) to provide emergency relief to families experiencing homelessness and to unaccompanied youth, in light of the health and economic consequences of COVID–19.

Families and youth experiencing homelessness are at great risk of coronavirus transmission, infection, and illness — as well as predation, violence, and trafficking. The coronavirus outbreak has further jeopardized the health and safety of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness, and threatens to create new waves of family and youth homelessness.

Senator Murkowski highlighted that “youth and family homelessness in Alaska was an obstacle even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. And with stress related to shelter-in-place orders combined with the current economic crisis, we see even more homeless families. We can help protect these vulnerable populations by providing additional resources and the flexibility to use them for the programs and systems that are already in place.”

While the CARES Act included some funding related to homelessness, most children and youth experiencing homelessness are not eligible for it, because they are not eligible for most services provided by HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grant. Dedicated funding is needed through the programs and systems that are best positioned to help homeless children, youth, and families immediately, and ensure their long-term stability.

The Emergency Family Stabilization Act creates a new emergency funding stream administered by ACF to provide flexible funding for community-based organizations to meet the unique needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness (as defined under the broader education definition of homelessness) in the wake of the coronavirus. It will provide emergency funding to underserved populations and areas who will see long-term repercussions of COVID-19, including in rural and tribal communities. Providing housing-related and other services to children, youth and families experiencing homelessness as early as possible will reduce transmission of COVID-19 and mitigate compounding trauma and negative lifelong impacts of homelessness.

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to expand funding to address children and youth homelessness and to specifically help those affected by this global healthcare crisis,” stated Senator Manchin. “No child should go to bed without a roof over their head and a warm place to sleep.”

CWLA endorsed the legislation along with many other state and national organizations. To endorse the bill (local, state, or national organizations) click here.